KARNATAKA

Elections do not make any difference to them

Just Another day: Construction workers going about their business as usual in Madikeri on Thursday.

Just Another day: Construction workers going about their business as usual in Madikeri on Thursday.  

Jeevan Chinnappa

Names of construction workers not on voters’ list



Migrant construction workers have made open fields in Madikeri their home

‘No statistics on such workers in Kodagu’



Madikeri: The last-ditch efforts of candidates contesting the Assembly elections to seek votes have had no effect on construction workers in Kodagu.

Most of them were going about their business as usual at construction sites in Madikeri city on Thursday.

“I am 13 years old,” said Savitri, who was carrying stones from the roadside to the construction site. When this correspondent brought to her mother’s notice that children below 14 would qualify as child labourers, Savitri did not allow her mother to speak. “I go to school in Hassan,” she said.

Savitri’s family had migrated from Hassan to Madikeri to work as construction helpers.

On seeing Savitri being questioned, two other young boys and a few women from the same team closed in. One of the women refused to give her name even after repeated pleas. “Why do you require my name,” she said.

When she was told that elections were scheduled for Saturday, she remained unperturbed. When asked again, she said that she would go to Chikmagalur for voting, but was unaware of the polling date.

A number of such migrant construction workers have made open fields in Madikeri their home by pitching tents. The aged, infants and their young attendants remain in the shacks till other members return “home” in the evening.

Honorary president of the Kodagu Construction Workers’ Association and Kodagu Loaders’ Association P.Y. Bharath told The Hindu that minimum wages for construction worker had been raised from Rs. 92.45 a day to Rs. 105 a day recently, following the High Court order. Migrant workers should also be paid the minimum wages. However, there was no proper statistics on the workers who had come into Kodagu because they kept moving from place to place in search of work, he said.

He said that most of the poor people, including those living in the “lines” (line is housing quarters for labourers in plantations) still worked as “bonded labourers”. Names of the majority of those living in lines did not figure in the voters’ list, he said. Village accountants had failed to visit lines located deep inside the plantations, he added.

Mani, a building contractor here, said that non-Kannadiga workers engaged with him would not vote since their names were not in the voters’ list.

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